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Atim Oton
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Atim Annette Oton is a Nigerian-born, American and British educated designer is the founder of The Creative Side Fashon and Design Incubator, and the co-founder of Black Design News Network (BDNN), a flagship news distribution source and website creating awareness of black designers across the globe. She is the publisher and editor of Brooklyn’s Calabar Magazine and serves as a blogger for Huffington Post Black Voices focused on African and Design issues. In 2006, she stepped down from her role as the Associate Chair of Product Design at Parsons School of Design, working with black furniture designer Tony Whitfield, to concentrate on Calabar Imports, her retail venture.

Atim was born in Calabar, Nigeria where she spent her formative years before coming to the US to study architecture at the City College of New York in Harlem under the most influential African American architect and dean of the architecture school, J. Max Bond (who she later worked for) and took design and history courses with Labelle Prussin, female architect and author of African Nomadic Architecture: Space, Place and Gender. She also did her graduate studies in Energy and Environmental Studies at the prestigious Architectural Association Graduate School in London, England from 1992 – 1994 studying under Simos Yannas. She returned to New York in 1994 to work with the architecture firm, Davis, Brody, Bond Architects and various other firms in New York. In 2000, she was part of the design team that won the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center. She also worked as an executive producer and design consultant on the Underground Railroad Experience, a cultural education website from 2000 – 2004 on issues to do with slavery and the Underground Railroad. She won an Independent Grant from the NYSCA on her work, the Black Hair Salon in 2002.

Oton was one of the founders of Blacklines Magazine, a quarterly magazine publishing that featured black designers in architecture, interior design, construction, development and the arts and served as its executive vice president from 2000-2002. Her design work has been published in Architectural Record, Design Build Magazine, Design Architecture.com, Oculus and Blacklines Magazine. Her work has been exhibited at the Architectural Association in London, and in New York at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Institute for the Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), the Bronx Museum of Art and the City College of New York.

In 1997, she created and curated a ground breaking exhibition on women architects and designers entitled Toward the New Millennium: Women in Architecture at the Aaron Davis Hall Gallery of City College of New York. She has been profiled in Office.com and Diversity.com for articles on Blacklines Magazine. She has been featured for Calabar Imports on CNN, MSNBC, The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, BCAT’s NeighborhoodBeat and CUNY TV. She is a Board Member, a Vice President and co-Chair of Economic Development Committee of Community Board 8 in Brooklyn. She is a member of the City College of New York’s Architecture Alumni Group, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and was a member of the National Association of Minorities in Communications (NAMIC).

Entries by Atim Oton

Crystal McKenzie: A Design Pioneer, Still One Step Ahead of the Pack

(0) Comments | Posted February 20, 2014 | 9:41 PM

This year as I come back to Huffington Post Black Voices with a regular monthly posting, I took time off to conceive a project, The Creative Side Fashion and Design Incubator, and return to blogging to look at pioneers in the design industry and emerging designers across the...

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Gregory Maqoma's Exit/Exist Debuts in Brooklyn at 651 ARTS

(0) Comments | Posted October 28, 2013 | 6:21 PM

South Africa has been on my mind for a month and as I reflected on the hiatus I took from writing this blog, I recall a promise to visit next year. The month began with an email from my Johannesburg friend Bongani Madando, who just returned from Berlin and decided...

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African Fashion as the Next Fashion Capital: Evolving the Concept of Hybrid Modernity

(3) Comments | Posted April 18, 2013 | 3:42 PM

Last year at TedxDumbo in October, I spoke about Africa as the next Fashion Capital. I believe this notion fully and it has some roots in the timing of what is going on the continent. This decade, most African countries will hit 50 years of independence. This is...

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Brooklyn to Accra and India to Brooklyn: Reveling in a Working Hiatus

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2013 | 6:34 PM

Last October, after I finished speaking at TedxDumbo on Africa as the next fashion capital, I took a hiatus from writing here and spent time refocusing on my business, Calabar Imports in Brooklyn. It had been a year since we had a fire at our original...

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Evoking Race at The Crown Heights Film Festival

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2012 | 7:47 PM

Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one's nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned. This trust in one's...

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Africa, Disability and Mental Illness: When Will We Evolve?

(7) Comments | Posted September 17, 2012 | 10:06 AM

Some days, I find it unbelievable how little has changed in Africa. We seem to evolve slowly and quite frankly, there is no reason for this pace. Yes, I do understand that we are people of tradition and our culture and beliefs hold us almost stationary, but our evolution in...

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Africa and the Chinese Invasion: Some Nuts and Bolts in the Craft Sector

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2012 | 10:53 AM

I began this blog post almost a year ago, and even today, I still have mixed feelings about the role of China in Africa. Africa needs help, I really believe Africans can do it themselves but after years of colonialism and independence, we are still in our infancy as Modern...

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Africa's Dead Presidents: Are we growing up?

(6) Comments | Posted September 5, 2012 | 2:35 PM

About two years ago, on May 6, Nigeria lost its sitting president, Umaru Yar'Adua. I recalled it because I had just returned from a trip there and was in the midst of re-thinking my business. I was a bit worried yet surprised at the calmness after his death....

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Striving to be Ghana's Premier Fashion School: Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design

(0) Comments | Posted August 17, 2012 | 4:00 PM

This is the seventh blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the series here.

I began...

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Striving to be Ghana's Premier Fashion School: Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design

(0) Comments | Posted August 17, 2012 | 4:00 PM

This is the seventh blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the series here.

I began...

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Striving to be Ghana's Premier Fashion School: Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design

(1) Comments | Posted August 15, 2012 | 10:44 AM

This is the seventh blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the series here.

I began...

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Weeksville's Garden Party Brings Stew and the Negro Problem and Kenya's Just A Band to Perform in Brooklyn

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2012 | 11:02 AM

Summer Garden parties are always exciting. The friends you spend the days talking with, the food and the cool ice drinks. And then, there is the music and entertainment. For me, a biased Brooklynite, Brooklyn is the best place to be for a hip summer party and the Weeksville Heritage...

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Fela is Back On Broadway...and it is Fabulous

(1) Comments | Posted July 16, 2012 | 2:53 PM

I was born in Nigeria in 1969 and lived through Fela's revolutionary years. I remember 1977 like it was yesterday. There were 3 major events that year in my life: the raid on Fela's compound, FESTAC 77 and my father's untimely death. Each changed the way I see the world...

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Runo Okiomah's Maa-Bara: Growing Food Anywhere

(9) Comments | Posted July 11, 2012 | 6:29 PM

This is the sixth blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the series here.

I first...

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South Africa's Non-Fiction Writer Bongani Madondo on Africa's Progress and Problems

(1) Comments | Posted July 10, 2012 | 6:30 PM

This is the fifth blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the series here. Follow me...

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Blugge Design: Color of Good Design

(1) Comments | Posted May 24, 2012 | 7:16 PM

This is the fourth blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the series here.

Spring brings...

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Black Girls CODE: Making Technology Accessible

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2012 | 12:50 PM

This is the third blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the series here.

Let's face...

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American Design Students Service Learning with Kofi Boone in Ghana

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2012 | 9:44 AM

This is the second blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade. See the first here.

In 2000,...

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Nigerian Collaboration Sparkles with the Bronx Museum's smARTpower Initiative

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2012 | 7:15 PM

This is the first blog in my series, The Pulse of Africa talking with Global Africans working in Africa and across the Diaspora. It takes an inside view on Africa's progress, issues on arts and culture, technology and opportunities in this decade.

Early this month, artist Brett Cook sent me...

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Emerging Designer, Tiffany Lawrence, Triumphs with Showroom New York

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2012 | 6:06 PM

Fashion is a tough profession for anyone. Most observers see it as fun and glamorous but those who participate in it know that it is a serious business. It takes guts and determination. And as Fashion week begins in New York, I have been contemplating on how independent fashion designers...

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